A sport's letter of intent is used primarily by colleges and is a document signed by an athlete who intends to represent a certain institution. Different sports have set signing dates athletes must sign within. For example, to play basketball enrolling in the 2010-11 academic year, athletes were eligible to sign between Nov. 11 and Nov. 18, 2009.
Signing a national letter of intent is not mandatory and any signing is done on a voluntary basis by both the student and the institution.
Going forward after the signing of a national letter of intent, the prospective student-athletes are no longer eligible for recruitment approaches from other institutions.
The focus of a national letter of intent is on the school rather than the specific coach or team. This ensures: focus on the academic progress of a student-athlete; it also avoids unforeseen circumstances such as the dismissal of a coach canceling out the document.
Committing to a national letter of intent guarantees a student-athlete an academic scholarship for one full year.
Use of the national letter of intent scheme is officially adopted by 612 Division I and Division II participating institutions within the NCAA.